Criterion was unable to make much of a competitive impact in the Group 1 Hong Kong Cup over the weekend, but co-trainer Tom Dabernig has confirmed the popular entire has come through the race well and will be set to defend his crown in the 2016 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) in autumn.
Criterion has been a standout performer through his entire racing career since first appearing on course competitively in late 2012; posting an impressive seven wins and thirteen minors highlighted by four Group 1 triumphs including the most recent edition of the Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
A little sluggish from the gates in the Hong Kong Cup, the talented son of Sebring was forced to settle off pace and wide in transit; receiving a tough run and failing to produce anything of a sprint in the final straight to finishing ninth.
Dabernig told Racing Ahead Criterion has come through the luckless run when and will be set on a similar course through the 2016 Autumn Carnival to that which peaked with success in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes in 2015.
“He’s come through the run fine, it just didn’t work out for him,” Dabernig said.
“He jumped a bit slow from the gate and the Japanese horses went very quickly and kept running and he just struggled to get into the race.
“He’s in fine order and has to just do a couple of weeks of quarantine there before he can come home but has come through the race absolutely fine.
“It worked well for him last year so we’d definitely follow a similar plan in Sydney in the autumn for sure.”
Undoubtedly finding peak condition for the first time through the 2014 Autumn Carnival, Criterion ran second to Cox Plate winner Shamus Award in the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) before taking out each of the Group 1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) and Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m) most notably.
Returning this year for third in the Group 1 Canterbury Stakes (1300m), Criterion continued to impress when a close second in the Group 1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m) in his only other start prior to the Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
Ladbrokes.com.au is currently offering the best early 2016 Queen Elizabeth Stakes odds, for which Criterion can be taken at a generous quote of $9 for success.